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Car insurance in West Virginia is required for all vehicle owners. Because of this, in West Virginia, driving without insurance comes with stiff penalties, including the possible suspension of your licence and vehicle registration. Understanding the car insurance requirements in the Mountain State and the penalties for failing to meet these requirements could help you make an educated decision about your coverage.
Minimum insurance required in West Virginia
Car insurance is a legal requirement for West Virginia drivers. To register your car and drive legally in West Virginia, you will need at least the following minimum car insurance coverages and limits:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person
- $50,000 bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 property damage to others
- $25,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 uninsured motorist property damage
While these are the minimum levels required, most insurance professionals recommend that you purchase higher limits if you can afford to do so. Your liability coverage protects your finances if you cause an accident, and your uninsured motorist coverage provides coverage for your damage and injuries if you are hit by someone who does not have insurance. Purchasing higher limits gives you more financial protection.
Additionally, minimum coverage does not provide any coverage for damage to your vehicle. For that, you will need full coverage, which includes comprehensive and collision. While not required by law, full coverage is generally required by financial institutions. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, you will likely need full coverage.
Penalties for driving without insurance in West Virginia
The penalty for driving without insurance in West Virginia can be stiff. The state uses an online insurance verification system, known as the West Virginia Online Verification (WVOLV), to confirm your insurance coverage. If you are pulled over and are found to be driving without insurance, the West Virginia DMV will be notified. In addition, car insurance companies licensed in the state must report to the DMV when drivers have let their car insurance lapse.
If the system flags you for not having car insurance and you are unable to verify coverage, you could face the following penalties:
Driver’s license suspension
In addition to a possible ticket for no insurance, you may have your driver’s license suspended for 30 days. Subsequent offenses of driving without insurance in West Virginia could result in license suspension periods of 90 days or longer. To have your driver’s license reinstated, you may have to pay a reinstatement fee. In some cases, you may be able to avoid suspension of your license if you pay a $200 penalty and provide proof of coverage.
Vehicle registration suspension
Your vehicle registration may also be suspended if you cannot show proof of insurance. If it is your second offense for driving without insurance, your vehicle registration could be revoked. To regain your registration, you may need to pay fees and submit proof of insurance.
Penalties could be even stiffer depending on the specific situation. The best way to avoid the expense and inconvenience of these penalties is by having a car insurance policy in place. If your budget is tight, getting quotes from several car insurance companies might help you find a policy that you can afford. Having an auto insurance policy not only saves you the hassle of dealing with these penalties, but it can protect your finances if you cause an accident.
Getting into an accident without insurance
If you cause an accident without car insurance, you are responsible for the financial burden of the damages and injuries that you cause. If you do not have any car insurance, you will be responsible for paying for these bills out of pocket. If you are unable to do so, you could be sued. Your license will likely be suspended and you will need to obtain car insurance coverage to reinstate it. Because you will have an accident on your record and a lapse in coverage, it is likely that your car insurance premiums will be higher than they would be if you had had prior coverage.
An appropriate car insurance policy protects your finances if you cause an accident, provides financial protection for other parties that you damage or injure and helps you to avoid the stress and hassle of fines and suspensions.
Frequently asked questions
What if you provide false insurance information?
Providing fraudulent or false information to the West Virginia DMV or to a law enforcement officer is a crime. Giving false or fraudulent proof of insurance could result in the suspension of your license, having your vehicle registration revoked, fines or even jail time.
How much is car insurance in West Virginia?
The average cost of full coverage car insurance in West Virginia is $1,499 per year. Your actual rate will vary based on your individual rating factors, like your age, the type of car you drive and your driving history.
Can I get a car insurance exception if I do not use my vehicle for part of the year?
West Virginia allows you to temporarily store your vehicle seasonally without coverage. However, once you plan on driving again, you will need to reinstate your car insurance. You will need to file a Seasonal Statement of Insurance (WV-4B) form with the DMV. Part of the form will ask you to enter effective dates for which periods of time you will carry insurance coverage. You must purchase vehicle insurance for these periods since the DMV will verify electronically whether you are insured. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, your lender could require you to keep your coverage even if you are not driving your car.